I’ve just finished writing the final short story for a new collection so it feels as if I’ve stepped out into a wide-open space —no need to spend valuable reading minutes researching the price of chicken, or who was in power in Belarus at the time. I can read like a reader—for pleasure. The luxury!
Anna Burns’ Milkman was first on my list, an immersive experience of another time, another place, a new way of working with stream of consciousness and an astonishing new use of language.
So what could possibly follow that? Well I’m picking up The Life and Times of Tristram Shandy again because Burns’ digressive style and linguistic pranks have been compared to Sterne’s more than once.
Meanwhile, I’m devouring M.A.C. Farrant’s brilliant new book, Jigsaw, which examines the puzzle of conscious existence with ninety-nine pieces of inimitable perplexity—and cows. A book everyone should read if only to know they are not alone.
Finally, I’m re-reading J.M. Coetzee’s The Lives of Animals because I’m seeing how some of my short stories are preoccupied with cruelty and I’d like to establish a broader base of investigation of the subject if I return to it, one that goes farther than the emotional reaction of abhorrence. What is it with us humans?
Pauline Holdstock is a Giller-nominated novelist. Her most recent novel, Confessions With Keith, is published by Biblioasis.
Photos courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.